Route Climbed: Keyhole Date Climbed: July, 1996, August, 1998, and July, 1999
In early July, 1999, I did the Keyhole Route on Longs Peak. This was my third ascent in as many years. I climbed on a Sunday (a day that the Rocky Mountain NP trail crew doesn't work) to ensure that I wouldn't run into anyone I knew from my 1996 summer trail crew experience ;-). At 4:45am, I left the 9,400 ft trailhead parking lot in running shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt (not recommended). I took a look at the trail register and saw that there were several parties ahead of me -- some had started as early as 3am (for the Keyhole route).
Soon I arrived at the "Keyhole" -- the route's namesake. This opening allows easy access between the east and west sides of Longs. The wind was howling, but the sky was clear, and the air was warm, so I pressed on. After a few minutes of 3rd class scrambling, I reached the "Trough" (a 500 ft gully), which was filled with snow. The snow was still hard (not good running shoe terrain!), so I climbed on the rock on the left side of the snow. This turned out to be very enjoyable 4th class and easy 5th class climbing. After a few minutes of scrambling, I tagged the summit, then headed down. The round trip took 5 hours and 15 minutes.